[Prevention for children with parents with depression or anxiety : National and international approaches and their age specificity]

Nervenarzt. 2019 Mar;90(3):251-259. doi: 10.1007/s00115-019-0674-x.
[Article in German]


Background: Children of mentally ill parents are exposed to a multitude of burdens due to the diseases of their parents. Age-related preventive measures and interventions are needed to minimize the risk for the development of psychiatric disorders by the children themselves.

Objective: The aim of the study was the documentation of preventive options on a national and international level for children of different age groups between 3 and 14 years with parents with depressive or anxiety disorders.

Material and methods: A systematic literature search was conducted to identify current evidence-based preventive interventions measures for these target groups and analyzed with respect to age-specific aspects and evidence.

Results: From screening 107,573 publications 43 interventions could be found. After examining the evidence of the interventions 25 projects could be included in the analysis For each of the different age groups the intervention with the best evidence is presented in this article.

Conclusion: Many interventions were found but most of them were not sufficiently evaluated or psychometrically defined; however, the few well-evaluated evidence-based projects for children mostly addressed the age-specific needs. Projects for preschool age children mostly worked with the parents and referred to elements of parental training. For schoolchildren there were various preventive projects that especially worked with increasing the self-esteem and the development of coping strategies. Projects for adolescents worked with psychoeducation and increasing social connectedness. Across all age groups there was no comprehensive and cross-system networking between the interventions.

Keywords: Cross-system network; Evidence-based; Literature search; Nationwide establishment; Parental Mental Disorders.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety Disorders* / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Child of Impaired Parents* / psychology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depressive Disorder* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Mentally Ill Persons* / psychology
  • Parents* / psychology